Man deported after jumping airport fence

A man who told the court ‘My head not so right’ was sentenced to 10 days imprisonment and recommended for deportation after pleading guilty to criminal trespass at Owen Roberts International Airport.

Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale imposed the sentence last week on Greig Anthony Smith, 34, after hearing background to the case against him and a police report that Smith’s sister was anxious to have him back home in Jamaica.

The magistrate said there was deterioration of Smith’s mental health, which was an aspect of his offending behaviour.

Smith was first brought to court on Friday, 16 January, the date of his offending. He was remanded in custody, charged with entering the premises of the airport without having lawful business thereon; breach of airport regulations by climbing over a chainlink fence, which is prohibited; and doing an act prohibited without permission – entering the airport apron area, to which members of the public were not, for the time, being admitted.

On the following Tuesday, 20 January, the magistrate obtained further information. Crown Counsel Jenesha Simpson said Smith was found lying under one of the airplanes after he was seen climbing over a fence.

‘A man who climbs a fence and lies under a plane is looking at disaster,’ the magistrate commented. She asked Smith if he knew he was not allowed in that area without a passport and ticket.

‘Yes,’ he replied. He said something happened back home and he got into big debts. He had to do something to clear it. He said he was proving a point. ‘My head not so right…. Stress got to me,’ he told the court.

Smith said he had been in Cayman three years 10 months doing construction work. He gave the names of two people who knew him personally and could tell the court about him.

The magistrate asked for those persons to be contacted and she brought Smith back to court two days later. On that occasion, she explained she was trying to find out what kind of man Smith was.

A former employer said Smith had been a good worker. A woman said she was unhappy with her contractor after Hurricane Ivan and gave the work of fixing her house to Smith. He had proved to be ‘very hard working, very responsible and very competent.’ Since then he had continued to do jobs for her.

Asked if she had seen Smith display any bizarre behaviour the woman said his concentration did not seem to be as good lately. She added: ‘He always had this feeling he could prophesise – I don’t know if that was delusions.’

Immigration officials advised that Smith’s application for work permit renewal had been refused. The magistrate said she could guarantee that any appeal would be unsuccessful because he had now been charged and convicted on his own admission.

Police said Smith had approached two aircraft – American Airlines and Cayman Airways – and had to cover 2,000 to 3,000 feet to reach the planes.

A statement from the Airports Authority issued the day of the incident confirmed that personnel from the Fire Service reported to Air Traffic Control that a person was observed inside the airport perimeter around 5.30am. Traffic Control notified Security, who responded to the scene. By that time the person had been stopped by members of the Fire Service. Police arrived and arrested the individual.

In court, Smith’s former employer said when he came to offer himself as surety for bail, Smith appeared agitated. The man thought Smith needed medical help.

The magistrate said a psychiatrist had seen him and would continue evaluating him. Smith might be put in the Mental Health Unit. She remanded him until 27 January and asked for an update from the doctor.

On that final date, the magistrate summarised all the information provided to her and noted that Smith had no standing on the island because his work permit had been refused. Keeping him here would be a drain on local resources. His family was anxious to have him back and she was minded to take on board their concerns.

Ten-day concurrent sentences were imposed for the criminal trespass and breach of airport regulations. The charge of doing ‘acts prohibited without permission’ was left on file as a repetition of the first two charges.

A police officer advised the court that arrangements had been made for Smith’s departure the following day.

Compass reporter Norma Connolly contributed to this story.